When the curtain closes on Ballet West's "Pointe/Counterpoint" it will also complete Jonas Kage's first season with the dance company.

"It's been an intense year, and it will be nice to take a break," Kage said during an interview at his office in the Capitol Theatre.As intense as the year was, however, the artistic director said he is pleased with how smooth things have been since he took over the company from John Hart last August.

"I still can't believe how fast this season has gone," Kage said. "There was a lot we had to do in these short months, but in general I felt there was a postive response from the company and the audience."

One of the elements that made this season zip by, Kage said, was that the dancers are inspirational. "The dancers have done a terrific job. There were some changes, but they were needed."

Changes included the departures of principal dancers Giles Maidon and Erin Leedom, and moving Pamela Robinson to company instructor. "I think the dancers can see where I'm coming from and I can see where they have their strengths.

"Overall, I do believe the dancers are enthusiastic about where the company is going."

When Kage first climbed aboard Ballet West, he understood how important it was for him to see how the ship sailed before making changes. "Until you get involved with something, you really don't have an understanding of how it works."

Kage did, however, emphasize the importance of bringing the art of ballet to the forefront, especially when the competition includes MTV, the Internet, movies and cable and satelite television.

"I want to show the public what ballet is capable of doing," he said. "The plans and visions I had for the company last year remain. I feel they are still possible to do. And it helps that I have gotten to know the community a little better, too. Because of that, I can evaluate what steps to take for the next season."

But Kage understands that mixing the repetoire would bring mixed responses.

"Some shows are harder to sell than others," Kage said. "But I believe we did a great job. It was a pleasure doing `Sleeping Beauty' and `Feel the Beat,' although I wish we had more people attend that one.

"I still believe that once we get someone to see what we're doing, they'll like it. That's my main goal. I want to have people come see us because we're Ballet West, regardless of what the performance is."